Heart attack survivor raises red flag

About 9:30 a.m. Oct. 28, Westchester resident Shirley Grant went into full cardiac arrest and was taken to the emergency room at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.

"I don't remember anything about that day," said Grant, 66, a registered nurse, mother of two and grandmother of five. "My husband said I had a headache earlier in the day, and he did CPR for five to six minutes before the paramedics came."

Grant spent a month in Adventist Hinsdale, including two weeks in the intensive-care unit. The incident left her with brain damage because, Grant said, her brain had been deprived of continuous oxygen for 25 minutes "from the time I coded to the time I arrived at the hospital."

Grant, who was discharged from the hospital Nov. 23, is now on medical leave from her job.

"I was aware that heart disease was the No. 1 killer of women, but I still didn't think it would happen to me," Grant admitted.

To make women better informed about heart disease, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital will present the Women and Heart Disease Symposium from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Wednesday at the Community House, 415 W. 8th St. in Hinsdale. The cost is $20, and lunch is included.

The event is one of several heart-health-related programs being held at local hospitals in February, which is American Heart Month.

The Adventist Hinsdale event will include screenings for cholesterol, triglyceride levels, blood pressure and body mass index. Women also will be able to review the results of these health screenings and ask questions about health issues with cardiologists.

Symposium presenters include Dr. Paul Ryan, a cardiologist with Suburban Cardiologists in Bolingbrook, and Dr. Edgar Carell, a cardiologist with Adventist Heart and Vascular Institute in Hinsdale. Ryan will discuss risk factors in heart disease, and Carell will review the symptoms and risks of peripheral artery disease.

Chief Mike Kelly of the Hinsdale Fire Department will discuss the importance of calling 911 and what to expect after placing the call.

"I think that it's taken a long time for women to realize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women," Carell said. "Women are surprised to find out that they're more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than cancer."

The symptoms of a heart attack for women may or may not be different than those of a man, Carell said.

"Some women will present with a squeezing of the chest, others with nausea or shortness of breath, an ache in the upper back or discomfort in the jaw or arm," Carell said. "Women tend to be more stoic than men and they might dismiss their symptoms and not realize they're having a heart attack."

Shirley Grant's medical emergency prompted her to make some profound changes in her life.

"Before I used to eat a lot of fried foods and a lot of sweets and I was overweight," Grant said. "Now I eat fruit and I eat about half of what I used to eat. And I've lost about 20 pounds. I exercise daily, whereas before, I exercised whenever I got the urge. I'm learning to cook better, and I can breathe better and I'm not as tired."

Ryan, Carell and Kelly will repeat their presentations at "Couples Night Out" from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Dixon Education Center at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, 5101 S. Willow Springs Road in La Grange. The free event is sponsored by the hospital. Health screenings will not be available at this event.

For information about either event, call 877-65-HEART or visit keepingyouwell.com.

Other Events in the Western Suburbs

Edward Heart Hospital in Naperville offers the UltraFast Heart Scan for $75 in February and March. Regular price is $150. Cash, check and credit cards are accepted. Appointments must be scheduled by March 31. Call 877-45-HEART.

West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park offers "Senior Lunch & Learn: Women and Heart Disease" from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday for women 55 and older. Lunch will be served. The event is free. To register, call 866-938-7256.

Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital offers "The State of the Heart" at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24. Learn about heart disease risk reduction, new medications and treatment options from Dr. Dominick Stella, an interventional cardiologist, and receive a free Heart Score valued at $375. To register, call 630-856-7525.

Delnor Hospital in Geneva offers a calcium-scoring CT heart scan for $99. Schedule your appointment during February and get a free executive tote. Call 630-762-6400.

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